Obama’s War on Truth 187

The four USAF military drone operators who recently blew the whistle and exposed the callousness and complete lack of concern for civilian casualties of the US drone assassination programme, (and received very little mainstream media exposure), yesterday found their bank accounts and credit cards all blocked by the US government. The effects of that on daily life are devastating. My source is their lawyer, Jesselyn Radack, through the Sam Adams Associates (of which we are both members).

No criminal charges have been brought against any of the men, despite numerous written threats of prosecution. Their finances appear to have been frozen by executive action under anti-terrorist legislation. This is yet a further glaring example of the use of “anti-terror” powers against people who are not remotely terrorist.

More whistleblowers have been jailed under Obama than under all previous US Presidents combined. Even so, the US authorities seem wary of the publicity that might surround prosecution of these servicemen, who only spoke of the effect upon their own health of having repeatedly to carry out heartless and often untargeted killings.

So their lives are being destroyed in other ways. You will forgive me for recalling that I know how they feel because I have been through just the same thing myself.

When I blew the whistle on UK complicity in torture and extraordinary rendition, I received numerous written threats from the FCO under the Official Secrets Act, and for a while I lived in daily expectation of arrest. Still more hurtful were the constant denials from Jack Straw and his repeated assertion that the UK was never complicit in torture, that there was no such thing as extraordinary rendition, together with the frequent imputations to journalists and politicians that I was in poor mental health and an alcoholic. I never had my bank account suspended, but there were interventions with prospective employers that prevented my getting another job.

Still, I had it easy. Chelsea Manning will celebrate her birthday in jail on 17 December.

It is worth recalling what these drone operators told us:

Bryant said the killing of civilians by drone is exacerbating the problem of terrorism. “We kill four and create 10 [militants],” Bryant said. “If you kill someone’s father, uncle or brother who had nothing to do with anything, their families are going to want revenge.”

The Obama administration has gone to great lengths to keep details of the drone program secret, but in their statements today the former operators opened up about the culture that has developed among those responsible for carrying it out. Haas said operators become acculturated to denying the humanity of the people on their targeting screens. “There was a much more detached outlook about who these people were we were monitoring,” he said. “Shooting was something to be lauded and something we should strive for.”

The deaths of children and other non-combatants in strikes was rationalized by many drone operators, Haas said. As a flight instructor, Haas claimed to have been non-judicially reprimanded by his superiors for failing a student who had expressed “bloodlust,” an overwhelming eagerness to kill.

Haas also described widespread alcohol and drug abuse among drone pilots. Drone operators, he said, would frequently get intoxicated using bath salts and synthetic marijuana to avoid possible drug testing and in an effort to “bend that reality and try to picture yourself not being there.” Haas said that he knew at least a half-dozen people in his unit who were using bath salts and that drug use had “impaired” them during missions.

187 thoughts on “Obama’s War on Truth

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  • glenn_uk

    Among the most chilling statements, these former operators told how their colleagues dehumanised those targeted – to the extent that children were referred to as “fun-sized terrorists”. It makes clear that “terrorist” is most often a term employed by the powerful to excuse their own atrocities.

  • RobG

    “British drone strikes have killed 305 ISIS targets in the last year without causing ANY civilian casualties, MoD reveals

    British drones have killed around 305 ISIS fighters in Iraq over the past year without harming any civilians, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has revealed.

    RAF Reaper drones have carried out more than 200 strikes over Iraq as part of Operation Shader since November 2014.

    The 305 kills do not include British extremists Reyaad Khan, 21, from Cardiff, and Aberdeen schoolboy Ruhul Amin, who were killed in a secret drone strike on Syria in August.”


    I probably won’t be thanked for posting a link to the Daily Mail; but of course the point is that a huge number of people believe the rubbish that the likes of the Mail publish.

  • Mark Golding

    Obama’s War on Truth

    ..we occasionally ‘haveta’ twist the arms of countries that wouldn’t do what we need ’em to do…


    The rationale or raison d’être is this:

    When a victim believes the same values as the aggressor, they cease to be perceived as a threat.

    The sentient frailty of so many mortals preoccupied with wealth and power is identified here by Craig and others and is the reason why millions of page views are recorded on this on-line journal and record; given and gifted for now and future generations.

  • Ruth

    Slightly off track but to do with the truth, a comment I’ve just made in the Independent

    ‘This comment doesn’t directly relate to this article but to articles the Independent publishes in relation to Corbyn. Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed whenever I log in and start to make a comment on such an article, the whole comment section disappears except for the title. Whereas if I want to comment in the same edition to an article on a different subject everything is fine. Today, exactly the same has happened with the article, ‘Jeremy Corbyn under mounting pressure as Unison leader urges Labour to ‘get its act together.’ New comments are being published but I can’t get access. I wonder is the Independent or GCHQ deliberately preventing pro-Corbyn comments from being made?

    I wrote this comment over a week ago but today with the article on Corbyn, ‘Jeremy Corbyn should resign over ‘unacceptable’ behaviour towards Syria air strikes vote, say senior Labour MPs’ exactly the same happens.

    This really can no longer be a coincidence.

  • J Galt

    “Obama’s war on truth”

    Do you honestly think Obama even knows what day it is – never mind what vicious revenge is being carried out on the lower levels who dare to speak the truth?

  • YouKnowMyName

    @Uzbek-inna-UK 12:30
    But whole irony is that Snowden is now being protected by the regime which put lies, misinformation, oppression for the free speech as a core of its policy. What a world we are living in?

    Ok , I agree with some of that – apart from your repetition of the “russian” lies, misinformation, oppression meme. I’m sure you meant to write USA or UK?

    If you *really* lived in the old Soviet regime, as I did in Moscow/Leningrad in the ’70s, and *really* live in the UK now – then you must see that the powerful UK state media machine nowadays has the same unanimity of focus ‘pro-war’/’anti-corbyn’ (lies) , rehashses even Turkish lies (active propaganda) and has much propaganda by omission and generally is doing its best to emulate the Soviet media history! Personally I now (sadly) find russian media much more honest & accurate-world-view based.

    Happily, on a recent discussion with upper-sixth formers, I was impressed to find them doing real studies on the British media soft-assassination (oppression) of Corbyn, I was amazed and impressed. What other likely twaddle did you say, I can’t remember! Keep entertaining, you might be being studied yourself. . .

  • Republicofscotland

    Didn’t Bryant also say that in one drone strike, from his control room in New Mexico, he killed children playing around a target area, and when he drew the attention of his superiors to such matters, his superior claimed that the children were dogs and not children.

  • RobG

    Early last month, Cameron stood up in Parliament and calmly announced the following:

    “Today I can inform the House that in an act of self-defence and after meticulous planning Reyaad Khan was killed in a precision air strike carried out on 21 August by an RAF remotely piloted aircraft while he was travelling in a vehicle in the area of Raqqah in Syria.

    In addition to Reyaad Khan who was the target of the strike, 2 ISIL associates were also killed, 1 of whom – Ruhul Amin, has been identified as a UK national. They were ISIL fighters and I can confirm there were no civilian casualties.”


    Cameron’s statement was all part of a carefully orchestrated propaganda exercise which revolved around a supposed Islamic terrorist plot to blow-up VJ Day celebrations, which included assassinating the Queen…

    (sorry, another Daily Mail link!)

    In August 2013 the UK Parliament voted against taking military action in Syria. Cameron and his government went against the express wishes of Parliament, and ignored international law, when they ordered the extra-judicial killing of two British citizens in Syria.

    Although there were intakes of breath in the chamber when Cameron made his statement last month, there was surprisingly little reaction outside of the House of Commons. As far as I’m aware, only the Green Party are challenging Cameron & Co:


  • Republicofscotland

    Re drone strikes this in not an up to date report, but it shows just how frequent drone strikes are.

    Recent conflicts in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq have seen almost 1,200 drone strikes over the past five years, according to new data released to the Bureau.

    The information, much of it classified until now, shows that US Air Force drones carried out most of the 1,168 attacks. However British crews are also responsible for a significant portion of the strikes in Afghanistan.

    The Bureau has obtained data from the US armed forces, Nato and the UK’s Ministry of Defence. It reveals, for example, that more than a quarter of all armed Coalition air sorties in Afghanistan are now carried out by drones.

    While only a fraction of those missions result in strikes, drone strikes in Afghanistan are now taking place on average five times each week.


  • Republicofscotland

    Regarding Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to not approve airstrikes in Syria, the fall out from his decision has been spectacular. Shadow front bench ministers have threatened to resign, over Corbyn’s stance (a brave and right one in my opinion).

    The press have berated Corbyn, for not agreeing with David Cameron and his war hawks. Thankfully it also looks like, the SNP will also vote no to airstrikes.

    However David Cameron knows his chances of securing the vote on airstrikes in Syria are slim at the moment so he’ll hold off, calling a vote, whilst his war hawks cajoule and harass other MP’s into voting for the strikes.

    Meanwhile don’t be surprised if another terrorist attack strike Europe whilst we’re waiting for the balance to tip in the war hawks favour.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    While this is disturbing, even the treatment of whistle blowers who try to expose it, and all kinds of other terrible programs, it is still a less toxic result than: the Anglo-American assassinations of domestic leakers, made to look like suicides, accidents, and natural deaths.

    Unfortunately, we just know about the ones which make the national media, as there must be many more which pass unnoticed.

    Still, the demises of GCHQ/MI6 computer whiz Gareth William, his GCHQ associate Gudrun Loftus, astrophysicist Steve Rawlings who had a keen interest in their deaths, and former NOW reporter Sean Hoare are truly shocking.

    I have already complained about the still unsolved murders of Royal Cadet Stephen Hilder, and WMD expert Dr. David Kelly.

    In the USA, the convenient deaths of Air Force leaker John P. Wheeler, III, about missions against Iran, his alleged killer Andrew Robert Levene dying in prison, the subsequent death of Ali Resa Pahlavi to help keep it covered up, Michael Hastings who was investigating the Benghazi betrayals when he died in a fiery auto crash, computer whiz Banaby Jack who was going to reveal that Dick Cheney had a heart transplant for fear that some would highjack his heart pump, and FBI agent Steve Ivens who tried to warn Obama that he was being set up for murder.

    This is just the tip of a terrible iceberg.

  • Republicofscotland

    Obombers, count on countries he’s bombed compared to George Bush Jr.

    Bush: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Somalia, Bush also drone bombed Yemen.

    Obama: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria.

    Obombers war on Muslims.

    Countries with confirmed airstrikes under Obama are more than 90 percent Muslim.

    Afghanistan: 99.8 percent

    Iraq: 98.9 percent

    Pakistan: 96.4 percent

    Somalia: 98.6 percent

    Yemen: 99.0 percent

    Libya: 96.6 percent

    Syria: 92.8 percent


  • Republicofscotland

    “RoS: None of them have resigned yet because that means leaving the gravy train.”


    DonnyDarko, that doesn’t come as a surprise, like you said the troughing b*stards know which side their breads buttered on, they’re to egotistical to resign.

    Corbyn was elected on a democratic mandate, but the war hawks and corporate compliant yes men haunting Labour, want him out now.

  • Anon1


    “Meanwhile don’t be surprised if another terrorist attack strike Europe whilst we’re waiting for the balance to tip in the war hawks favour.”


    What are you suggesting, RoS? Please clarify why you believe we should not be surprised if there is another terrorist attack in Europe.

  • YouKnowMyName

    Tunisia has today confirmed that their latest provocation bombing (13 deaths) was done with Libyan (Benghazi?) sourced Semtex

  • Anon1


    I see the RoP was spreading the love in Niger yesterday as well, with 18 civilians butchered by Boko Haram fanatics. A judge had his throat cut by his own nephew.

    Other than that a quiet day by RoP standards.

  • Republicofscotland

    You can always rely on John McTernan to take the war hawks side no matter who the opposition are, here the the ex-Labour adviser (jonah, jinx) a more fitting, title, calls Jeremy Corbyn a liar on multiple occasions.

    Ternan who helped sink Jim Murphy’s political career in Scotland goes on to compare Corbyn to a supply teacher, amongst other things.


  • Iain Orr

    A friend commented on the Guardian’s excellent Steve Bell cartoon that ” we are in the grip of the myth of redemptive violence in Walter Wink’s phrase”. This striking oxymoron was new to me. Others might like to see it explained – here:

    I expect many of us will be celebrating Sane Saturday by joining one of the many “Stop the War Coalition” demonstrations taking place tomorrow.

  • Republicofscotland

    “Tunisia has today confirmed that their latest provocation bombing (13 deaths) was done with Libyan (Benghazi?) sourced Semtex”



    I’m not surprised their was another erhm..attack in Tunisia but then again, the CIA has a secret military complex on the island, which could explain a lot.

  • doug Scorgie

    S Jackson

    27 Nov, 2015 – 2:07 pm

    “Democracy is dead.”

    It’s been dead a long time. If democracy gives the “wrong” result it will be cancelled. Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader by a good margin of votes. Now the establishment including the media and some disgraceful Labour MPs want that democratic vote to be brushed aside.

    Now the treacherous Fiona Mactaggart MP wants Corbyn’s resignation. Why?

    Well if he resigns she and others can ignore that little matter of the democratic leadership election and have another vote without Corbyn on the list.

  • BrianFujisan

    Gawd Mary..

    Effin Mission Trying to re – Find this info – But thanks

    Dr Mads Gilbert

  • Pan

    Kempe –

    “Drone pilots train on real aircraft just like any other pilot. They’re also commissioned officers.”

    I say, steady on old chap. Don’t get too carried away. It’s not like they went to Sandhurst!

  • fred

    “Regarding Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to not approve airstrikes in Syria, the fall out from his decision has been spectacular. Shadow front bench ministers have threatened to resign, over Corbyn’s stance (a brave and right one in my opinion).”

    No they haven’t, they are happy for Corbyn to take whatever stance he wants to so long as there is a free vote. If he enforces the party whip there will be resignations. Personally I think there should be a free vote on all sides of the house on matters such as this.

  • Robert Crawford

    It seems to me they just keep voting until they get the result they want.

    Where have I heard that before?

  • fred

    “Now the treacherous Fiona Mactaggart MP wants Corbyn’s resignation. Why?”

    If you look back on these pages you will see me saying that if Corbyn was elected by a load of non Labour party supporters buying votes at £3 a time he would have neither the respect or the backing of his members.

    If you read this it explains how party policy is decided:


    The leader is not an elected dictator and can’t on his own dictate party policy.

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